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Ukraine conflict: UK to train Ukrainian pilots on NATO-standard fighter jets, says UK prime minister

A UK student pilot training on a Hawk T2 simulator at RAF Valley. The UK has offered to train Ukrainian pilots on the use of “NATO-standard fighter jets”, although it is unclear if this would be synthetic or real-world training, or a combination of the two. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The UK is offering to train Ukrainian pilots on the use of “NATO-standard fighter jets”, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on 8 February.

This was done as part of a wider pledge of support for Kyiv timed to coincide with the first visit to London of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“As part of today's talks, the prime minister will offer to bolster the UK's training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to ensure Ukraine can defend its skies well into the future,” Downing Street said. “The training will ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated NATO-standard fighter jets in the future.”

Prior to the Russian invasion in February 2022, Ukraine fielded a range of Soviet Union-era combat aircraft that it inherited in 1991. These comprised 50 MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum', 33 Su-27 ‘Flanker', 12 Su-24 ‘Fencer', 25 Su-25 ‘Frogfoot', and 34 L-39 aircraft as listed in Janes World Air Forces . Although the Ukrainian Air Force has been able to maintain combat operations over the 11 months of the war so far, it has certainly suffered a high attrition rate that has seen the highest levels of the Ukrainian government make repeated requests of its Western allies to provide it with replacement aircraft.

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